Women and the Arab Awakening
Discussion and Presentations at International House Philadelphia
On November 11, 2011, The International House of Philadelphia, a residential community for international students and sponsor of multicultural programs, featured two guest lecturers who spoke on “Women and the Arab Spring.” In the Spring of 2011 the international community was spellbound by the courageous actions of the people of the Middle East and their determination to bring democratic reforms to their nations. On a personal note, I was so inspired that I made a video as a tribute to all people through human history who have fought for their freedom against oppression. Video is here under FREEDOM.
In her presentation Sahar Khamis, professor of Communications at the University of Maryland, spoke about how the “Arab Spring” was actually an “Arab Awakening” and how women played a significant role in the Egyptian protests. While acknowledging the important role of social media as a tool that allowed the democracy movements to proceed more quickly, the success of the protests could be attributed to prior organization and to the people willing to come together to demonstrate in solidarity for democratic reforms.
Nada Alwadi, independent journalist, writer and researcher, spoke on “Women in Bahrain.” Nada introduced the heroines of the Bahraini protests. Citizens of their country who were just doing their jobs were imprisoned and tortured. The Bahraini authorities targeted two unionists, Jaleela Al Salman, Vice President of the Bahrain Society of Teachers and Rula AlSafar, President of the Bahrain Nursing Society, both of whom spent months in jail and are scheduled to go to trial. Authorities also arrested Ayat al_Qurmezi for reciting her poem about injustices in Bahrain at one of the protests. Nahad al-Shirawi treated injured protestors. A photograph in a hospital room showed Nahad grieving over the loss of a patient. She was later arrested for “grief without a permit.”
This site has more information about women’s role in the uprisings, which continue until this day.